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New York Giants Vs. Dallas Cowboys: NFL Week One Game Analysis

September 7th, 2012 at 9:00 AM
By Hazem Kiswani

Well, it sure wasn't the way the New York Giants wanted to open their Super Bowl title defense, as they fell to the Dallas Cowboys in frustrating fashion, 24-17. New York came out strong on defense, and it really looked like it was just going to be a matter of time before they took full control of the game. A fumble from rookie David Wilson, a couple of drops and miss tackles later, and the Giants found themselves trailing 14-3 with injuries piling up at cornerback as Michael Coe was forced to leave the football game. 

Manning got the Giants into the end zone with 2:36 to go, but the defense couldn't get the ball back for Eli and the offense with 2:00 left, as Tony Romo hit Kevin Ogletree on one last slant to put New York away. 

Key Reason for Loss: Inability to match up with Dallas wide receivers on defense

Look, the Giants offensive line certainly didn't do much too help with the way they played both in pass protection and (even worse) on the ground. That being said, the cornerbacks just did not give Manning and the offense the chance to compete in this game. Dallas went to town on Michael Coe and Justin Tryon, as Ogletree, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant combined for 272 yards and three scores on sixteen catches. Corey Webster, one of the league's best one on one covermen over the past two years, had arguably his worst game since the 2007 season. When it came down to just one third and ten with a little over two minutes to go and Dallas sure to go to a quick, high percentage throw, the Giants once again could not defend the inside slant as Ogletree put the game away after torching the Giants for two touchdowns earlier. The Giants had the ball for less than 26 minutes in this game as the Cowboys continued to move the chains and control the pace. 

GAME POSITIVES

  • Very impressive debut from tight end Martellus Bennett, who we talked about this off-season as a guy with a boatload of physical tools and the potential to be a huge addition to the passing game over the middle, as well as the running game with his elite blocking skills for the position. Bennett's talent was on full display as he played a very aware, active, and complete football game for New York. Good start, let's see how his chemistry with Manning develops from here.
  • Strong showing by the safeties, particularly Antrel Rolle who was very active, making a beautiful play to break through the line and stop Lawrence Vickers on a fourth down and one in the first quarter. Nice tackling in the open field and great aggression against the run from Rolle.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw has one of the best stiff arms in football and runs with a real presence when he gets into space. If this Giants offensive line can get it together, Bradshaw is the type of runner that can demoralize defenses with his physicality.
  • Eli Manning is still Eli Manning, isn't he? A sharp performance from the franchise signal caller in which he once again led his team into the end zone multiple times after they fell behind, but he just did not get the opportunity to close out the fourth quarter with a tying touchdown drive. With the way he threw the ball, does anyone think he wouldn't have put the Giants in position to take the game into overtime if they got the football back?
  • Jason Pierre-Paul is a flat out force on this defensive line and will continue to be one. No sacks, but he was a handful for this Dallas offensive line no matter how many guys they put on him and how much attention was shifted his way. Picking up where he left off.
  • More strong punting from Steve Weatherford, another guy who picked up where he left off last season.
  • Solid showing from Keith Rivers. He flashed a lot of quickness and awareness underneath in his time on the field. Great athlete, if he can stay healthy and keep focusing on playing up to his physical skills, he has a high ceiling.
  • I don't want to hear the talk that somehow it's a negative sign that rookie David Wilson may have shown some emotion when he reportedly teared up on the sideline after his fumble. That is something Giants fans should take as one of the big positives in this game – because all I see from Wilson is a guy who's extremely committed to being successful in this league and very committed to making it happen. Count me in as very impressed with the type of prospect the Giants have in Wilson. 

GAME NEGATIVES

  • Michael Boley intercepts a Tony Romo throw and brings it back 51 yards down to the Dallas two yard line and this offensive line can't get Ahmad Bradshaw a lane to the end zone? Absolutely inexcusable and disappointing. That's not the type of football this team takes pride in.
  • To stick with the offensive line group, they have got to take several steps forward before this Giants offense can score the way they did against the better teams last season. That run blocking in the first half was some of the worst I've ever seen from a Giants offensive line, and that includes last season where they were worst in the league in rushing. Not to mention the fact that Eli Manning wasn't well protected on Wednesday night either. They've got to regroup or Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin are sure to shake things up.
  • Missed tackles were another problem, and from some of the best tacklers in the front seven at crucial moments. Mathias Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck? That can't happen.
  • Rough night for Victor Cruz. A lot of drops (three) on very well thrown balls, and unfortunately they came in big spots. He'll need to put this one behind him and just focus on being Victor Cruz for this offense. Bad games happen. Let's wait a few weeks before killing the guy for enjoying his off-season Giants fans. Very talented, very hard working player who I expect to bounce back.
  • Where was the pass rush? Outside of some early plays from the interior defensive lineman and a few single handedly dominant plays from JPP, this pass rush was neutralized by a very average Dallas offensive line. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have got to have a much bigger impact going forward for this defense to get back to where it was in the postseason last year.
  • Prince Amukamara better get healthy quick, because this cornerback group looks like a real issue. Corey Webster picked a bad night to have his worst game in years, as Michael Coe and Justin Tryon were obliterated by the Dallas wide receivers all game long. They just looked completely overwhelmed by the game and the moment.
  • 33% on third down isn't going to get it done against good teams in this league. The Giants just looked out of sync in key situations offensively in this game. 

PLAYER OF THE GAME – QB Eli Manning

One of the few players that really showed up on Wednesday night, Manning looked sharp and in control of this offense even with little help around him. The offensive line played poorly, there was a fumble that killed one of the team's better drives of the game early, and several drops by his receivers. He still took very good care of the football and even with all the miscues put his team back in position to take the game into overtime. 

OVERALL PERFORMANCE GRADE

A handful of Giants played well in this game. Manning was sharp, Ahmad Bradshaw played with intensity and passion even when his offensive line was giving him reason to get frustrated, and Antrel Rolle and JPP were standout performers defensively. 

That being said, this just was not an impressive night for Big Blue. There were missed tackles in the front seven, there was extremely poor coverage defensively, uninspired blocking from the offensive line, and several mistakes on both sides of the football. "Humble pie" is what Tom Coughlin felt the team experienced Wednesday night. 

Grade: C

Closing thoughts..

It was a rough night for the Giants and Big Blue fans, and while it was a division game, it was the first game of the season and this team has shown time and time again how it responds to struggle and adversity – taking after their head coach. 0-1 is not where New York wanted to be, but they have to turn to this next game against Tampa Bay and immediately consider it a big game with their schedule this season. There's no time to look back and dwell on what happened. 

Dallas is a solid football team and you knew they were going to come into the Meadowlands and take their best shot at the team that ended their season. The Giants played a very mediocre football game and were still in position to go into overtime and win with a little over two minutes left. 

If they can avoid getting too caught up in this game and get their focus to Tampa Bay and the rest of the season, the Giants will be just fine. If they're still talking about this game through the weekend and early next week, there may be cause for concern. Knowing the way Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning operate, I wouldn't think that that will be the case. 

If you want something to be excited about – take the performance of Martellus Bennett. He really has a shot to develop a very impactful role with this offense.

photo credit: texas_mustang via photo pin cc

Also…

Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Corey Webster, Dallas, Dallas Cowboys, David Wilson, Eli Manning, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Keith Rivers, Martellus Bennett, Michael Coe, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Victor Cruz

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26 Responses to “New York Giants Vs. Dallas Cowboys: NFL Week One Game Analysis”

  1.  JimStoll says:

    The Giants dominated the first half up until the last drive where Dallas scored
    they blew the first opportunity with the Wilson fumble; they blew the second with the failure to score from the 2
    Then they came out in the 2d half and got their jocks handed to them
    the offense did absolutely nothing until Dallas had posted a 14 point lead with just under 6 to play
    the last TD was “permitted” by Dallas (indeed aided by Dallas and its myriad penalties) in that chinese torture way — death by a thousand paper cuts
    the final failure on that slant is particularly frustrating bcause everyone and their mother knew that play was coming
    why wasn’t Rolle and Phillips planted at the first down market inside the corners ready to take the quick slant if hit?
    That’s on Fewel I think
    In any event, the game is over. there are 4 more losses this team can absorb without fear of missing the playoffs, and 1 additional loss likely won’t be fatal
    so we need to look at it that way, put the Dallas game behind us, find a replacement for Tryon, keep working to get better, and not give another thought to Dallas until week 8

    •  Chad Eldred says:

      The key to this loss was the first half. The Giants were the better team in the first half in all respects except the only one that counts. The score. The dithering and inability to get it in gear early in games has been a problem. When you play good teams it is going to bit you in the rear end sooner or later. This season the bite has obviously come sooner. I love Eli’s comeback ability, but wouldn’t it be nice if he didn’t have to have it tested week after week?

    •  Dirt says:

      Jim,

      Do you have the game recorded? Go back and watch that last play. At the snap, Rolle WAS standing at the yellow line. In fact, he was literally standing within 2-3 yards from where the ball would end up. I have no idea how he not only didn’t make a play, but how he didn’t pick the ball off and score.

      •  BigBlueGiant says:

        Rolle thought Tryon would make the play. If you wanna blame Rolle for not making a play, blame the play on the Austin TD. He overshot that pass by at least 10 yds. Up to that point he was outstanding on defense. HE shoulda made that play on the Austin TD though.

      •  JimStoll says:

        ouch!
        brings up an entirely different level of concern

  2.  Luv2Salsa says:

    Great analysis, Haz. I would add as a negative the Giants conditioning. As the game wore on, they looked absolutely gassed. Time of possession means a lot in these early games when it’s hot and humid.

  3.  fanfor55years says:

    Terrific piece Haz.

    Stubborn insistence on establishing the run + terrible run-blocking = lack of points early = need for comebacks + consistent defensive stands in order to get the offense the ball back so Eli Manning can dominate

    That’s a formula for too many losses. This team needs to either find a different solution on the O-line or start using the pass to establish the run. The coaches have to be flexible, like it or not.

  4.  UANYG says:

    Haz,

    Agree with most of what you said. River’s closing speed was impressive, I haven’t seen that out of a Giants linebacker since Armstead (who still wasn’t the athlete Rivers is).

    Regarding Wilson’s need for emotion wipes for his eye water, I can’t go down that road with you. Emotional displays like that in a professional environment can be a red flag of sorts. He’s a gem, and should be a great RB for us for years, but man-up, admit fault, and dedicate yourself to continuous improvement.

    At this point, the secondary reminds me of the 05′ giants linebacking core as they were getting ready to play Carolina (I think it was that year, correct me if I’m wrong).

    For us smashmouth purists, I’m afraid FF55 is right; pass first, and run second. This is not the 08 team, and the sooner Coughlin realizes it, the better we’ll fare in the standings.

  5.  kinsho says:

    I’ve been on this site for awhile, and Haz’s articles always tend to be spot-on. This one was no different.

    I still think that offensive line remains the biggest issue with the team though. Being able to run adds a whole dimension to the offense that could really strain opposing defenses. We would have scored early on had Bradshaw been able to chew off a few big runs early in the game.

    As was said earlier, TC should consider establishing the pass to set up the run. It’s not necessarily ideal, but if it helps our run game, it should be considered.

    •  Krow says:

      The OL is consistent. They neither run block nor pass block very well.

      As I mentioned before, it’s like the ugly guy you sucks up his gut, greases his hair back … then stares in the mirror and says ‘lookin gooooood’.

      Our coaches seem to think we’re this powerful ground machine with big RBs and a well-oiled line. They run plays to take advantage of that. Unfortunately the reality doesn’t measure up to the fantasy.

      •  kinsho says:

        Yup, they’re consistent in the worst way.

        I don’t necessarily blame the coaches for running plays that rely on an offensive line that can hold its own and create gaps. I think given Bradshaw’s physical skill sets, he’d probably be most effective running up the gut for yardage.

        But given our offensive line’s struggles with creating holes, perhaps they should have Bradshaw and Wilson run more around the edges with Bennett or Hynoski as the lead blockers responsible for sealing the edge. Wilson would be very effective here given how fast he can accelerate.

  6.  BigBlueGiant says:

    Yes, the CB’s were bad. BUT…. I think the D-line has to share the blame here. DE’s didn’t seal the edges well. And The D-line allowed Romo too much time to get the plays off. Any group of CB’s in the NFL would have trouble when the QB has 8 seconds to throw the ball.

    •  BigBlueGiant says:

      This is the strength of our NY Giants and it was scary bad Wednesday night. This has to get better and I expect it will or else we’re looking at a very long year.

      •  Krow says:

        They were gassed. No time to properly train what with all the celebrity events and the back-slapping from hanger-ons.

        •  BigBlueGiant says:

          I mean, that’s no excuse. Plenty of time to prepare, train and get in shape. You know what happens to the Champ in a combat sport if they gas? They got Knocked Out and lose their belt. We got knocked out, and lost our belt.

  7.  BigBlueScorpion says:

    Whats with all the doom amd gloom around here?

  8.  Msoto says:

    Great Job haz. The one thing that stuck out to me watching the game was how bad the o-line played. Dallas knew we couldn’t run the ball Wich is why our deep ball threat was nonexistent.if we don’t figure out a way to fix the line defenses are going to just pin there ears back and put a lot of pressure on Eli Wich is what we saw Wednesday night.

  9.  fanfor55years says:

    Look, Tuck and Osi had plain bad games. And the Cowboys not only doubled JPP, they held him all night. They held everyone any time Romo slipped out of the pocket (quite rightly calculating that the zebras were so out of their league that they’d never call those penalties) and gave him plenty of time to spot receivers.

    It’s very simple. This team is built on two foundations: Eli Manning and a defensive front that consistently pressures the quarterback without any help from their teammates. If either of those foundation stones is weak, the structure wobbles and might collapse on any given day. Yeah, there are other critical elements of this team. Steve Weatherford has become one. They want to establish the run as another so the play-action that Eli excels at will be effective. But in the end it will come down to the two absolutely critical elements. Eli played well on Wednesday. It wasn’t his best game, but he hung in there and made a lot of good throws and play calls under constant pressure. The defensive ends were totally neutralized, and that created a basis for the Cowboys, who played well, to win.

    I don’t expect our three great DEs to throw another stinker like that all season. BUT, if we don’t get real officials back and teams can hold our pass-rushers with impunity, we are in deep trouble because on defense everything flows from that core element. Those cornerbacks everyone is hysterical about will look a LOT better when the quarterback doesn’t have all day to release the ball, as Romo did on numerous occasions. We may need one of two things: a settlement with the officials and getting them back on the field and these bozos off; or greater use of linebacker blitzes so there’s just too many people coming to hold them all.

  10.  fanfor55years says:

    The new posters are adding a lot. I hope more show up over the next few weeks.

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